Thursday, May 16, 2013


This is a story of love, courage, and feet-on-the-ground entrepreneurship. 

I don't have any children of my own, but I love kids in general.  So when my late brother's eldest son, Ivor, and his wife, Marie Louise, had a daughter, Maya, 22 months ago, I appointed myself as honorary grandpa.  This was made a little easier by the fact that they live in a South African village called Riviersonderend (River without end) only a three-and-a-half-hour drive from the small town of Knysna (pronounced NY-ZNUH) where I spend half the year.

The two never had much money, and they ran an outlet in Riviersonderend for Marie's father, selling the South African delicacy called biltong to travellers on the N2 - the main road along the south and east coasts of South Africa.  Biltong - dried, seasoned meat similar to but tastier than jerky - is extremely popular, so they managed to keep the hyenas from the door.  But barely so, especially after baby Maya arrived.

Marie-Louise was very worried about their financial situation and decided to take matters into her own hands, amply assisted by Ivor.  What follows is her account that I took from Facebook of how she started a small business called Soete Sonder End, which means Sweets (or Candies) Without End.  Marie-Louise has Afrikaans as her first language; Ivor's is English.  Both are bilingual, and Maya will have two first languages.


I started making fudge for our biltong shop two years ago with the idea to supplement our income. Using my grandmother's recipe and after loads of tears and many late nights, we finally got a great product.

I was six months pregnant and woke up one morning feeling very discouraged, thinking how will we be able to look after little Maya if we don't even have enough for ourselves. I asked the Lord to please give me guidance.

That same week, my housemaid Christine's husband accidentally stepped onto their 4 month old puppy which led to a broken hip. That Friday morning we took the puppy “Ounooi” to the SPCA. After a long wait the vet told us that he will have to operate and we will have to put down R800 (about $100) on Monday or they will have to put Onooi down. Christine was in tears...

That night I could not sleep, trying to figure out how we are going to get the money in two days? The next morning I woke up and phoned Christine telling her she better hurry up, we are going to make fudge and sell it in town.

The Golf Club had a golf day on and everybody told us we should try and sell our fudge there as well.  Andre, the captain of the club, was so kind to tell the whole sad story at the prize giving and auctioned the fudge starting at a R100! Some people were even willing to pay a R150!

By the end of the day we made R800! What a wonderful closed knit community we have, I thought to myself, everybody is always willing to help.

They absolutely loved the fudge and it made me realize that maybe I should take this further. The Lord gave me the guts to go out there and sell my product. The next week I got into my car starting at the Oumeul Bakery in town and went all the way down the N2...

I must say my big belly helped a lot because a lot of people could not say no to a pregnant lady....

Two years later we have 6 ladies in our employ. Making our own condensed milk and producing over two tonnes of fudge a month. We supply close to 250 shops and are now also making coconut ice. We have plans to start making our own butter soon. The feedback we get from our customers is very positive, and they are always asking us what we are going to make next.


Obviously I'm very biased in this case, but I love to see people work hard to make things better for themselves.  Marie-Louise and her staff make the soete, and Ivor delivers all them over the Western Cape.  The only downside I see to the enterprise is that it is taking time away from Marie-Louise's artistic expression.  On the wall is a large mosaic that I commissioned from her a few years ago.

Throughout all of this, Ivor and Marie-Louise are truly equal parents - a pleasure to watch.  And Maya is one happy kid.

Thank you for indulging my sentimental side.

Stan - Thursday


  1. Dear Honorary Grandpa, You have every reason to be proudly sentimental over such an inspirational story of character, determination, and hard work changing a family's fortunes. I'll be expecting fudge at CrimeFest.

  2. I am late catching up, Stan, but I am so glad to know this story. Marie-Louise deserves all her success, and I wish her MUCH more. You already know my feelings about your grandfatherhood. Little girls can benefit GREATLY from having a loving grandpa. You and Maya are very lucky to have each other. And by the way, fudge at Crimefest would be extra welcome, especially considering What Yrsa may be asking us to consume.

  3. What a random world. We just toured South Africa for 3 weeks, and I pretty much bought fudge everywhere I could, intent on finding the best. Some were too grainy, some were too smooth. Too soft, too hard. Too sugary, not sugary enough.

    But this. This is fudge. Soete Sonder End.

    Hard to the touch, but forgiving to the bite. Thick, dark, and sporting that telltale powdery patina.

    One bite and I knew I had found it.

    Excellent work.

    --Emlyn, USA